Disciplined To Share His Holiness
Discipline, with love, firmness and self-control, is an essential part of child-rearing. The child whose parents exercise no discipline is not well prepared to live and work in a world where they cannot be the centre of attention all the time. To be a disciple is to be a learner: learning from parents and peers, teachers and trainers, how to relate and cooperate with others to produce a harmonious and productive community. Of course, some of that training may be wrong and therefore hurtful; some may be inadequate and therefore wasteful. Some of our seniors may abuse their authority and others may try to escape from their responsibility. But the writer is making the general point that everybody is disciplined, and that is generally good for us (Hebrews 12:9).
God is a loving Father who knows how to grow us, and never represses our potential, through discipline – the skilful mixture of teaching and training, rebuking and correcting – which is the function of God's Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17). None of His disciple-making is unnecessary or excessive. The Lord has given us so much; without it we would remain unholy, offensive and ineffective in His service (2 Peter 1:3-8). Of course our parents and teachers disciple us while we are growing up; after that we are supposed to discipline ourselves. But the Lord knows our weaknesses. His disciple-making goes on throughout our lifetime, and all the more necessary when we think we have 'arrived'.
The Lord's goal for us is to be like Him in character, willing in service, loving in nature, discerning in spirit, rejecting evil, and embracing holiness. Holiness is summed up in 1 Peter 1:13-16, "Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'" God commands His people not to spoil anything of what He is doing for them and in them, because He wants us to share in His sufferings, His work and His glory (Romans 8:17).
Socially, it is very helpful to try to see ourselves as others see us. Spiritually it is essential to see ourselves as God sees us. That is why we have the Bible: it is a mirror to our hearts (James 1:22-25) which works alongside God's discipline to teach us how to live holy lives (Hebrews 12:11). For the Lord's disciple-making to bear fruit in our lives, He commands our cooperation, resisting the devil as we submit ourselves to God. He has a long-term view of our progress. It will help us to do the same. The end-point is our death or the second coming of Christ; by that time, He wants us to be like Him. It matters far less what we achieve, than becoming like Christ in character. So let us cooperate with the way in which the Lord is moving His Word and our circumstances to bring us to holiness before we see Him (Hebrews 12:14).
© Dr Paul Adams